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Pope Francis calls for prayers to 'protect world from folly of war'

Pope Francis has called for Ash Wednesday next week to be a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine. Picture by Andrew Medichini
Paul Ainsworth

POPE Francis has urged Catholics across the world to pray "intensely" for peace in Ukraine.

The pontiff has called for Ash Wednesday on March 2 to become "a day of fasting for peace" and condemned the "diabolical senselessness of violence".

"I encourage believers in a special way to devote themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day," Pope Francis said.

"May the Queen of Peace protect the world from the folly of war."

Letterkenny-based Bishop of Raphoe, Alan McGuckian, is chair of the Bishops’ Council for Justice & Peace.

In a statement last night to The Irish News, he said: "We keep the people of Ukraine in our prayers at this time. We also hold in prayer all leaders who have a duty to return to the table of peacebuilding in this time of great anxiety and challenge for all of Europe and particularly the peoples of the countries involved.

He added: "This is the first invasion in Europe since 1945. Indeed, until a few weeks ago it seemed unthinkable that any country would be invaded by another. It makes us realise how much we take peace for granted."

Meanwhile, the attack launched on Ukraine has been labelled "an act of great evil" by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, said: "The horrific and unprovoked attack on Ukraine is an act of great evil.

"Placing our trust in Jesus Christ, the author of peace, we pray for an urgent ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian forces.

"We call for a public decision to choose the way of peace and an international conference to secure long-term agreements for stability and lasting peace."

They encouraged Christians to make this Sunday February 27 "a day for prayer for Ukraine, Russia and for peace".

They added: "We also give our support to the call from Pope Francis for a global day of prayer and fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday, March 2."

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